Rival #1: Texas Rangers
This is the obvious answer by far. These are two inter-state rivals who have a constant back-and-forth on and off the field. Of course, the results have been fairly one-sided as the Rangers have went 28-10 in the past two seasons against the Astros. And this one-sided record has contributed to why the Astros have finished by the division-winning Rangers two years in a row.
If the Astros are serious about contending for the AL West crown in 2017 then the road to glory goes through Arlington. It’s that simple. Houston cannot be taken seriously unless they best the Rangers at home and on the road.
You also have the player connections. Carlos Gomez is the most recent example. Delino DeShields Jr. is another. Mike Hauschild made his debut as a Ranger, not an Astro thanks to the Rule V draft. Then there are the past examples that have played for both franchises: Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Ivan Rodriguez, and most famously, Nolan Ryan.
For years, the only notable aspects between the two teams were Ryan and interleague play. Oh, the Rangers owned the Astros during interleague as well if you don’t remember. But that has changed. This rivalary has built itself up nicely. And it has been the one saving grace of the Astros move to the American League.
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and ESPN.com**